Lutz Robbers Former Research Fellow

Lutz Robbers


Lutz Robbers studied regional studies, political science (M.A., Freie Universität Berlin) and architectural theory and history (M.E.D. Program, Yale University; M.A. Ph.D., Princeton University). Curatorial work at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Paris, fellow at the Cities Programme of the London School of Economics. Teaching fellow at the film studies program at Yale University and at the school of architecture, Princeton University. Associate assistant professor at the New York-Paris Program, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
He has been a member of the research fellow program »Tools of Drafting« since spring 2010.

Research Project of Lutz Robbers

Embodiment/Temporalization: The Emergence of the Moving Image in Architecture

»The plan is to be read sensuously, it is no mathematical abstraction.« With these words the pioneer of abstract film Hans Richter describes in 1925 Mies van der Rohe’s famous plan for a »Brick Country House« (1923). His exhortation raises the question about the interpretation and visuality of the architectural image, and hence about the conventional projective practices in the design process in architecture. What is more, Richter’s remark revises those interpretations made by architectural historians that have canonized Mies’s dynamic plan as an exemplary representation of modern space.
My research project takes Richter’s remark as an occasion to subject to critical interrogation the status of the architectural image, its role in the design process but also in the historical and critical discourses on architecture. The objective will be to analyze the image in the context of its apparatic, technological and institutional conditions. The image is consequently no longer understood as a projection that originated in an autonomous-creative subject, but as an active entity that precedes the subject.
It is no coincidence that it was one of the first film artists who suggested an alternative reception of the architectural image. Richter and Mies met during the early 1920s, at the precise time when the former began to experiment intensively with the medium film and the latter’s design was characterized by visionary projects like the Brick Country House, the Friedrichstraße skyscraper and the Concrete Office Building. I intend to explore the Richter/Mies affiliation historically as a case study in order to then develop a theoretical framework for the intersections between architecture and film. Most notably, I will try to sketch the outlines of a discursive field that developed during the period 1921-1924 as an informal artists’ movement around the journal G – Material für elementare Gestaltung, the very publication that addressed, as Richter writes, »the coevals that are already equipped with all those modern apparatuses of instinct, reception and transmission which secure their connection with life.« Architecture and cinema were the preferred apparatuses or media, which were no longer supposed to simply affect the world in a functional, rational manner, but were deemed capable of bodily tying the subject back into the creative processes of life.